Saturday, September 28, 2013

Tablet wars and e-book readers

With Amazon's announcement of the Kindle Fire HDX mini-tablets, the continental drift between the tablet market and the e-book reader market continues. Jeff Bezos is excited about the small 7" and 9" displays (looking ahead to a future Amazon phone?) and seems confident Amazon's investment in pad devices will survive competition with Apple, Samsung, and Google. Most likely he sees the application of the pad as a portable ordering device, an e-catalog, allowing potential Amazon customers to roam the physical stores of the world, shopping with device in hand, ready to put in an order to Amazon when some item strikes their fancy. Tesco, the UK-based retailer (2nd largest in the world by revenues and, oops, seller of occasional horsemeat) is taking a similar approach to catalog shopping with the Hudl, a new child-friendly tablet with media content (Tesco is already active in those markets) and other consumer applications. Priced somewhere between the Kindle Fire HD and the HDX the company touts the Android-based 7" Hudl's screen resolution as a sign that this is a serious tablet, not just a tool for accessing Tesco's many online services.

So what does all the competition in the tablet market mean for the e-book reader market, which is mostly the low-priced Nooks and Kindles. Barnes & Noble is doing it right by focusing their R&D on the e-book reader as a low-priced reader, end of story. In a year or so, as the tablet wars between Apple, Samsung, Amazon and the rest continue unabated Barnes & Noble will continue to generate a tidy profit with the simple Nook.

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